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Good Questions to Ask When Hiring Sales People

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I was listening to a Voice of Experience CD from the National Speakers Association (in the USA) this week and Zemira Jones, CEO/President of All American Management Group, shared several things to keep in mind regarding hiring sales people. Let me share what impressed me from Jones’ insight – specifically one of his key points, and a few of his interview questions to ask sales person, candidates.

‘Always be hiring’: Jones said that you should always be on the look out for people who you could add to your team at some stage. If a person impresses you – no matter in what environment or situation – or whether you have a place for them in your organization, put them in your database and keep in touch with them. Jones said that with any potential sales candidate you should always have more than one interview, at more than one time of day, at more than one location.

He said, that if a sales candidate has never been told they are too intense (ie. they’ve never been told by a client or prospect to back off or they’re pushing for the sale a bit too hard) the person is a dud and you shouldn’t hire them. That is, the most successful sales people, at some point in their career, will push too hard and rub at least some people the wrong way. (They’ll of course learn from that feedback and know what limit to push to in the future). If they never have been told to back off, they’re too passive and won’t succeed in a sales role in your organization.

Another question to ask a candidate is this: ‘Are you organized?’ When/if they say ‘yes’ ask them to tell you more Jones says the mediocre sales people (ie those who you shouldn’t hire) won’t be able to give specific examples of their organizing framework. Another question to ask is this one. ‘Think of your best client (assuming the candidate is an experienced sales person) what is their most important problem right now and what have you done to help them solve it?” Jones says the best candidates will be easily able to go in-depth with their answer/the mediocre ones won’t.

The how to apply for this post is: With the ‘always be hiring’ principle in mind, in the next week ask a respected colleague, friend or supplier, who do they know who they think might be a good candidate for you to consider, to work in your organization.


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